East County Sports

Eagles are Jaguars’ second eastern OT victim this season

Granite Hills gets fired up before Friday night's game against Valley Center.




By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (9-24-16) — At least four different times, it appeared certain that Granite Hills would beat Valley Center on Friday night (Sept. 23) in the first-ever matchup between these schools.

Even when Valley Center assumed its first lead in overtime, the Eagles had a golden opportunity to claim this one with a touchdown and a simple PAT kick.

Apparently, it was not to be.

Valley Center rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and prevailed in overtime, 27-21, to send the Eagles (1-3) home with their third straight loss. The Jaguars (4-1) won their fourth consecutive game, including a 31-28 win over El Capitan two weeks ago.

Going first in overtime, Valley Center handed off four times to senior tailback Daniel Belcher, who carried for 12, 4, 6 and then 3 yards for the touchdown and a 27-21 lead.


Granite Hills’ Christian Macias engages Valley Center Friday night. / photo by Dan Barnes Photography

With his offense rolling after a sluggish first three quarters, Jaguars coach Rob Gilster elected to go for the 2-point conversion, but Rikki Mazzetti’s quick out-pattern pass fell incomplete at the goal line.

On its ensuing OT possession, Granite Hills had third-and-1 from the 16-yard line, but junior quarterback JAKE SIEGFRIED was caught from behind and dropped for a 4-yard loss to make it fourth-and-5 from the 20-yard line.

Siegfried, who played brilliantly most of the night, rolled right on the next play and found an open receiver at the 10-yard line, but the ball caromed in and out of the hands of SHANE SWEEKER, setting off a wild celebration by Valley Center.

“It’s very frustrating, especially coming off back-to-back losses,” Granite Hills coach KELLAN COBBS said. “But it is what it is. The sun’s going to come up tomorrow. We’ve got to find a way to beat El Cap.”

On Staff Appreciation Night, Granite Hills looked to be cruising to victory when Siegfried scored his second touchdown of the second half to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.


Senior Chance Alm against Valley Center. / photo by Dan Barnes Photography

After Valley Center trimmed it to 21-14, the Eagles looked like a winner again when a Siegfried quick punt rolled down to the Jaguars’ 5-yard line with just over two minutes remaining.

But Valley Center refused to roll over.

Belcher carried 13 yards on the first play, and Mazzetti completed two short passes to the 30-yard line with 0:55 left. The next play was the biggie.

Mazzetti found his favorite target, speedy wideout Brock Moffitt, open downfield over the middle. Moffitt caught the ball in stride, shed a couple arm tackles and raced to the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown with 0:45 left.

“They had a couple of decent throws right there,” Cobbs said. “We couldn’t make a stop.”

Trailing 21-20, Gilster initially elected to go for a 2-point conversion, but after a Granite Hills timeout, he sent out his kicking unit, and Alex Hakes converted for a 21-21 tie.

But Granite Hills wasn’t done yet, either.

After the kickoff was returned to the 29-yard line, Siegfried ran for 10 yards, followed by a 28-yard draw-play run by KOLLIN MENZIES with 0:10 left, followed by a 19-yard run by Siegfried for a first down at the 14-yard line with 0:03 showing.

A chip-shot, 31-yard field goal by BRYCE STRICKLAND would seal the deal, right? After all, Strickland has been kicking for the Eagles for four years and is one of the best in the county. He hadn’t missed a kick all season, but even the best legs find it hard to overcome a high snap that leads to an awkward hold.

Strickland’s low boot never had a chance, and it was on to overtime.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Cobbs said. “They fought hard the whole game. They were having fun out there. (Valley Center) is a pretty good football team.

“This will help us down the road. We’ve just go to find a way to finish.”

Siegfried finished with 140 yards passing and 138 rushing. He completed 8-of-16 attempts with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed 21 times, scoring twice on short QB sneaks.

“He ran the ball well,” Cobbs said. “He made some good throws. We can really build on that.”

Last year as a sophomore, Siegfried threw for 761 yards and led the Eagles to a 9-2 record and a No. 3 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Division II playoffs. He was beaten out by sophomore CHRIS OSTRENG this summer but regained the job when Ostreng broke his collarbone in a Week 2 loss to Valhalla.

Siegfried entered the game with 74 passing yards. Against Valley Center, he completed his first five passes for 77 yards, including an 18-yard TD pass to HUSSON GATES to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead nine minutes into the game.

After consecutive 37-7 losses to Valhalla and Steele Canyon, Granite Hills’ second possession was a welcomed sight to say the least.

After an interception by SHANE JOHNSON – the Eagles’ sixth in four games – Siegfried scrambled left on the first play and threw a strike to WILL BURTON deep downfield for a 42-yard pickup. On the next play, Siegfried rambled for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Siegfried lobbed a pass over a linebacker into the end zone, where Gates hauled it in for the 18-yard score and a 7-love lead.

Valley Center went mostly nowhere until putting together a 13-play, 65-yard drive late in the first half, capped by a 6-yard scoring pass from Mazzetti to Moffitt to make it 7-7.

After intermission, Menzies took the first handoff 13 yards. Siegfried then connected with GUSTAVO GUTTIEREZ for gains of 19 and 34 yards before Siegfried scored on a 2-yard sneak to cap an 8-play, 74-yard drive with a 14-7 lead.

Later in the quarter, Siegfried opened another scoring drive with runs of 13 and 16 yards, and TYLER GONZALEZ added a 14-yard pickup before Siegfried scored on a 1-yard push on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 21-14.

To that point, the Eagles’ defense had mostly dictated the game, forcing Valley Center to punt four times and silencing six of the first seven Jaguars’ possessions.

“We played lights out defense for the first 3½ quarters,” Cobbs said.

Valley Center scored on three of its next four series to give Gilster, a former offensive lineman at San Diego State, his 201st victory as a head coach. Last week in a 34-31 win over Imperial, Gilster became only the ninth coach in section history to achieve 200 wins.

In eight seasons between 2004 and 2011, Gilster guided the Jaguars to seven section championship games, winning five. Including an earlier stint at Orange Glen, the only coach in Valley Center history is now 201-122-5.

A sixth tie would have been in the offing a few years back, but the section changed the rules to include an overtime session similar to college football in which both teams get at least one series from the 25-yard line.

Held in check through three quarters, Mazzetti finished with 206 yards on 14-of-26 passing with three touchdown passes – all to Moffitt – and an interception. Mazzetti came into the game averaging 196 yards per game.

Moffitt caught seven passes for 144 yards, including TDs of 6, 2 and 70 yards.

Belcher carried every one of the Jaguars’ 34 called rushing attempts for 163 yards and the game-winning TD in OT. Mazzetti was sack once by Gonzalez for a 5-yard loss.

Valley Center had 364 total yards and 17 first downs. Granite Hills totaled 363 yards and 16 first downs.

Menzies added 57 rushing yards on 15 attempts, and Gonzalez added 26 with five touches as the Eagles offensive line – ANGELO SANDERS, KALVAN SANDERS, MARTIN SAMINEGO, CHANCE ALM and GARRETT CURRAN – provided a good blocking scheme on both runs and passes.

Gonzalez, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior, was everywhere on defense for the Eagles. At one point in the second half, Gilster yelled out to his troops, “Look at that guy, he’s a human highlight film for Granite Hills.”

Johnson, too, played inspired defense. He almost had a second interception late in the third quarter and put a big hit on a receiver at the goal line in the fourth quarter. ELYJAH PALOMERA, DURADE AQILI, BRENDEN QUILL, Burton and Guttierez also stood out.

Guttierez, however, suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter, and that seemed to upset the Eagles’ pass defense.

Mazzetti had only 41 passing yards through three quarters, 165 after that.

Taking over for graduated star Rhett Reilly, who threw for 2,226 yards and 16 TDs last year, Mazzetti now has 991 yards and nine TDs in his first five games.

“He’s had some growing pains, as you would expect of a sophomore,” Gilster said, “but he has a tendency to make the plays when you need them.”

While Valley Center has a bye next week, Granite Hills travels to El Capitan for a nonleague game on Friday (Sept. 30) before opening defense of its Grossmont Valley League title against Santana on Oct. 7.

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